Craft Recordings/Concord has released a digital deluxe edition of R.E.M.’s tenth studio album New Adventures In Hi-Fi with a special 25th-anniversary re-issue. The digital Deluxe Edition includes the complete newly re-mastered album, along with 13 B-sides and rarities. The revamped album is also out now as a 2-LP set, pressed on 180-gram vinyl. On November 12th, a bonus-filled 2-CD/1-Blu-ray Deluxe Edition will be available with extra audio-visual content, including the newly re-mastered album, 13 B-sides and rarities, a never-before-released 64-minute outdoor projection film, and a previously unreleased 30-minute EPK.
First released in September 1996, New Adventures In Hi-Fi is one of R.E.M.’s most acclaimed albums and stands as a favorite among band members and fans alike. The album was a global success, achieving platinum certification in the US and peaking at #2 on the Billboard 200. Elsewhere, the album went to #1 in more than a dozen countries, including Australia, the UK, and Canada. Critically, New Adventures In Hi-Fi received wide praise and was named as one of the best albums of the year by Rolling Stone, Spin, Mojo, Entertainment Weekly, and the NME.
Recorded at the height of their fame, New Adventures In Hi-Fi marked R.E.M.’s final album with drummer and founding member Bill Berry, who left the group amicably the following year. “We wanted to make a record about being on the road without singing about being on the road,” bassist Mike Mills explains. But along the way, the tour was marred by medical emergencies. In March, Berry collapsed on stage from an aneurism and spent the next month recuperating. Mills, meanwhile, underwent intestinal surgery in June. A month later, Michael Stipe had emergency surgery for a hernia (which, he asserts, occurred while performing the song “Undertow”).
After the band returned from the eventful—yet highly successful—run of dates, they entered the studio with longtime producer, Scott Litt, to record a few final tracks and put finishing touches on others. Among them was the epic, seven-minute-long “Leave,” “E-Bow the Letter,” featuring backing vocals from singer-songwriter Patti Smith, “New Test Leper,” which Buck proclaims is his favorite R.E.M. song, and “How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us,” one of several songs on the album inspired by Stipe’s experiences living in Los Angeles.
Peter Buck summed up: “Most records, you go in the studio and you just do ’em. And years later all you really remember is vaguely where you stayed, and the songs and the recording process. But this one I remember every bit of it. It was an experience. It was f**king tough, but we made a record. And it was as challenging as anything I’ve ever done.”